Digital Health

Why Understanding Your Patients’ Emotions Is Key to Improving Patient Experience

How Understanding Patient Emotions Improves Your Healthcare Business

Understanding your patients’ emotions is the key to improve your healthcare business’ performance. It can show you on what fronts you’re lacking and guide you to find ways to improve upon those fronts. The process used to understand patients’ emotions is called patient sentiment analysis. It can help your healthcare business to not only perform better but also grow consistently.  

A healthcare business’ consistent growth relies upon two things:

1. A high level of patient experience, resulting in a higher patient retention

2. Some specifically designed marketing campaigns, based on a highly insightful data on patients emotions

With patient sentiment analysis, you can achieve both. A deeper understanding of patients’ emotions will let you devise ways to improve patient experience in your clinic or hospital, thereby retaining your existing patients. An insightful data on patients’ feelings and emotions will let you craft various referral marketing techniques, which can influence existing patients to bring in new ones.        

What Is Patient Sentiment Analysis (PSA)?

Patient sentiment analysis is the process of routinely collecting, processing, and interpreting patient-generated large data set of free-text comments and quantitative ratings. It is utilized by the healthcare providers for examining the positive or negative opinions and emotions in order to monitor and improve their practices’ performance.

Sentiment analysis is the most practical way to understand your patients’ emotions at large. Emotions are instinctive or intuitive feelings incapable of being expressed in words, but sentiment being a thought influenced by emotions can be expressed through written or spoken words.

How Sentiment Analysis Helps in Understanding Patients’ Emotions

Sentiment analysis uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques. It processes a comparative study of free-text comments and ratings written by the same patients to identify and categorize patients’ opinions and emotions. The AI technology is able to extract human emotions out of the written patient feedback by identifying words and patterns generated overtime.    

Today, patients report about their experience on different online platforms such as review websites, social sites, patient portals, etc. But these are largely unstructured and non-standardized free-text information, captured in a non-systematic way that makes it hard to use them for sentiment analysis.

The introduction of modern sentiment analysis tools like RepuGen has changed the scenario. These tools are AI enabled, use machine learning techniques to process bulk of data, and capture feedback from your patients by allowing them to openly share thoughts and feelings following a visit through a quick survey. All of these make it easy for you to understand your patients’ experiences and their emotions and utilize the information more effectively to improve your quality of care.           

A RepuGen survey conducted on over 29,000 patients over a six months period (June 2017- December 2017) revealed that happiness, trust, anticipation, anger, distrust, and sadness were the typical emotions felt by patients right after their visit to their providers. It also gave insights into the intensity of each emotion marked as high, medium, or low.

This nuanced understanding of the patient emotions with their intensity allows for a customized response to patient concerns. Providers can also benefit by launching a marketing campaign to convert the happy patients with high intensity of their emotions into advocates for the center.  

Sentiment Analysis for an Improved Patient Experience

Healthcare providers can use sentiment analysis as a strategy to improve patient experience by looking at specific emotions.

For example, in the RepuGen study (discussed earlier) on urgent care patients, the feeling of ‘anticipation’ increased by 8.31% when compared to the previous version of the study (Jan 2017-June 2017). This is a good sign that patients are expecting more from their providers.   

Providers can use this information to launch an internal ‘Behavior Changes’ campaign for the staffs that will focus on training them for providing an improved customer care service that can stand upon the different parameters of patients’ expectations.    

Using Sentiment Analysis Data for Strategic Advantage

Providers who use sentiment analysis data are always at a strategic advantage from their competitors. As sentiment analysis data gives a deep insight into patients’ emotions and their intensity of feeling, providers can develop very specific and highly-targeted marketing campaigns that can benefit their healthcare business by acquiring and retaining new patients.  

– Retaining your patients – By using in-depth sentiment analysis data, providers can easily target their existing patients with interesting offers and information. You can join your patients on social media chatters for imparting health information, or send them newsletters or link for your new blogs through emails. This will engage your existing patients in an indirect conversation with your brand which will improve patient retention by building patient loyalty.    

– Acquiring new patients – By utilizing the emotional intensity analysis breakdown, you can identify your high-intensity happy or trusting patients to develop new marketing programs focused on acquiring new patients. One simple example could be distributing referral forms or links through email to your existing patients, so they can acquaint your service with friends and relatives. This will help you get new patients on a regular basis.   

Results on these two fronts will keep your healthcare business up and running.


Even though sentiment analysis is still an evolving concept in the healthcare industry, it has proved its worth and utility in other industries. As we’ll shift further towards being highly patient-centric healthcare, doctors and providers will start recognizing the importance of understanding patients’ true feelings and emotions in order to provide them with desired quality of care and customer service. With this is mind, the importance and utility of sentiment analysis will be felt strongly and soon it will become a staple for hospitals and healthcare providers.

 Ajay Prasad is a healthcare marketing and reputation management expert and founder of GMR Web Team, a digital marketing agency.He firmly believes that increasing patient satisfaction, stellar online reviews and robust internet presence are the three pillars of a thriving healthcare business. Follow him on Twitter at @ajayprasad